Friday, March 22, 2013

Slice of Life 23 - Change

Slice of Life is sponsored every Tuesday by Stacey and Ruth from Two Writing Teachers. For the month of March we are challenging ourselves to write a Slice A Day.

Last night I went out to dinner with some wonderful friends. We ate, as we often do, at a nearby restaurant known for their sushi. My order came to the table and I was blissfully happy. I order the same roll every time I go, the Phoenix. It’s a fun roll – there are flames surrounding it when it first arrives at the table. And as I took a quick picture to show my boys, I thought about something. If you had told me I would enjoy sushi when I was their age, I would have thought you were crazy. Heck, even six years ago I would have questioned it. As I have gotten older, I have become braver in trying new food. Some I end up enjoying, some not. Either way I end up being glad I tried.

Change is hard – I know this. And change in regard to teaching is no different. I am fortunate in that I like trying new things. That being said, I still hesitate. What is known is comfortable. What is known might feel like the “right” way to do something. You know, or think you know, what works. Why would you vary from that path?

I remember several years ago a little book came out. You might have heard of it – it’s called The Book Whisperer.
J When it came out, however, I hadn’t heard of it. I picked it up, read it in a day. As I read, I found myself nodding. This person, Donalyn Miller, seemed like she knew me. I agreed with everything she said – or almost everything. See, at that time I taught reading through whole class novels. Donalyn used the workshop method. I clearly remember thinking she was right about everything she wrote except for the whole class novels. I could still reach all of my students by teaching from one book.

You know how you can get that nagging feeling? That voice that keeps at you? Like the angel on one shoulder, a demon on the other? That was Donalyn’s voice as I started school that year. I began teaching reading as I always did, but then I started really watching my students. Conferring with them. How on earth had I ever thought I was reaching them all with one book? I was so frustrated with myself, and so I changed.

That was a big day for me. When I realized that I could learn so much from others who differ from the way I teach. And I still can. I love talking to other teachers – learning how they teach. Even if I don’t agree with their philosophy, I find I learn more about myself, and what I believe in, just by talking to others. Often I can come away with a new understanding about teaching or practices just by being open and listening.

Years ago I tried that sushi for the first time and found out there was a whole type of fabulous food I had been missing. Who knew that by cracking a book I’d learn the same thing about teaching? And the lesson went even further than switching to a reading workshop model. I have learned to embrace change. I know I don’t have all of the answers, but I sure like trying to find them. It’s good to get out of our comfort zone every once and awhile. Who knows where we’ll end up as a result?